60

My Heart Attack

TLDR: I had a heart attack and survived.
I'm OK now. (Videos below)

It was late on Saturday night May 15.

I felt short of breath, and generally pretty lousy.

I debated whether to tell my wife Le'ema - I didn't want to worry her.

It had started the day before, when we did a brisk walk with our dog, and I felt like I couldn't get enough air and my chest felt funny.

Similar experiences came and went that Friday and Saturday, then got worse Saturday night.

After the heart attack: in my stylish hospital gown

It was 1:30 am, and I felt bad in an odd sort of way, even lying down.
I knew that I needed to get this checked out by a doctor.

My pulse was racing at 93 beats per minute - my heart was struggling even as I rested quietly. My blood pressure was 161 over 95; very very high.

I finally told Le'ema what was going on. She asked me how I felt. I said I felt bad, that something was really wrong. She asked for more details, but there was nothing else I could really say to describe it.

I asked her to drive me to the emergency room at the local hospital at about 2 am.

We raced the 15 minutes to Marin General Hospital as I steadied my nerves, attempting to breathe slowly and fully.

My wife remained calm, although inside she was a wreck.
She is a "shero" (female hero) for getting me there safely!

At the Hospital Door

We walked up to the emergency room door and she announced to the nurse "My husband is having a heart attack."

It was very scary, although they treated us efficiently and quickly got me to an examination room. The EKG came back "abnormal" and Dr. Gin (who had rushed over from her nearby home) told me in a steady voice "you have serious heart disease, and we're taking you to the Cath Lab right away."

I had never been told that I had heart disease, this was a surprise.

The last time I had a complete physical checkup (4 years ago), I had been told my cholesterol was high and that I should start taking statin drugs to control it. I asked if I could reduce my cholesterol through diet instead, and was told "maybe, you can try"...so I took that as a go-ahead to make some small changes (such as eating oatmeal from time to time).

Big mistake. I never went back for a follow-up.

Here I am 4 years later, at the emergency room with a heart attack.

Stupid me.

Fixing me up...modern science at it's best

My wife was allowed in to see me before they took me to the Cath Lab. She was delighted to see the all female medical team, and as they wheeled me away Dr. Gin talked with her about my condition. Le'ema says Dr. Gin is a real "shero" for saving my life.

The Cath Lab is a short name for the Cardiac Catherization Laboratory, where they perform angioplasty procedures to open up cardiac arteries for people in distress like me. They placed my right arm in a sterile covering (a super-long glove) and proceeded to insert a catheter tube into an artery on my wrist, and snake it up to my heart.

It's incredible. I'm lying there awake (they only lightly sedate the patient) and listening to the medical team as they review the images onscreen showing my heart beating. The angiograms are somewhat like X-Rays, imaged using the CAT Scan machine that I'm lying on, using a radioactive contrast dye that they drip into my blood vessels.

After the procedure, I was shown the rather beautiful, intricate traceries of the blood vessels. Apparently my main artery, the one they call The Widowmaker, was 95% blocked. This severely limited the blood flow and caused the sensation of being short of breath - my heart was not getting enough oxygen, even as I breathed in as much air as I could.

I lay there for more than 2 hours as they planned and executed the procedure. There were complications and they had to figure out the best way to handle the most important blockages first.

Angioplasty opens up the arteries (which have been clogged with sticky plaque from the cholesterol and blood cells that get stuck on it) using a tiny balloon that pushes apart the artery walls. Then the balloon is removed and a stent (a tiny metal framework almost like a woven basket) is inserted and expanded. This keeps the walls separated so they don't collapse back down.

This process has only been in use for the past 25 or 30 years. Prior to that, a blockage like I had would have meant open heart surgery and multiple bypasses (extra blood vessels removed from another part of the body and placed in the heart to facilitate normal blood flow).

I am SO grateful that the doctors were able to handle this almost like magic - threading a tube through my body, with just a tiny insertion into my wrist!

After 2 hours they decided to give my body some rest; they had put in 3 stents, taking care of the emergency. They told me that I would get 2 more the next day, after my body rested and would be able to tolerate another procedure.

My wife had been in a waiting room nearby, all by herself. She was beside herself, not knowing whether I would survive. After 2 hours they came out and told her it had been a success, and she found her way up to my hospital room. She went home at 5 or 6 in the morning, and tried to sleep.

A 4 minute message from my hospital bed

Hospital Routine? Not Quite...

I settled into my new routine in the hospital - nurses coming at all odd hours, checking my "vitals" - blood pressure, heart rate and oxygenation of my blood; drawing blood; running additional EKG tests, and god knows what else.

A sweet young nurse came in later that morning to do a bedside echocardiogram. Just like the sonograms that are used to image the fetus in a pregnant woman, a metal device was rubbed slowly over my chest and shot sound waves into my body. Onscreen my heart revealed its structure and movement. It was bizarre and wonderful to see my beating heart onscreen.

She looked from all different angles, then paused in one area. One part of my heart wall was not moving as it normally should; it is in shock from the heart attack. It may recover full function - or not - they can't tell yet.

She looks deeper, and injects an albumen-based (non-radioactive) contrast dye through my intravenous feed.

This allows her to study an area that shows another issue - a clot, or thrombis.

This is somewhat serious - clots can grow or detach and move to another area such as the lungs or brain, and can be fatal.

They immediately put me on "blood thinners" to reduce that risk to a minimum. I'll be on these meds for a few months. The hope is that the clot will gradually dissolve as my heart returns to more healthy function.

I ask the cardiologists who come by my bedside whether I'll be OK. They say I will need to be careful, but they are hopeful that with the right meds, and better diet and moderate exercise, I'll be OK.

The next day, my brother tells me that he has 2 stents, put in 22 years ago. My cousin, age 90, tells me a similar story. I'm filled with hope, and so grateful that at age 67 I have been given another chance.

The Next Chapter

I love my life and my work - however I've let my work rule my day to day life to an unhealthy extent. Staying up until 1 or 2 am catching up on emails and answering support questions. Sleeping 6 or 7 hours then forcing myself to get back to work with just a coffee as my breakfast. No time for exercise, other than walking the dog.

Since I got out of the hospital one week ago, I've been walking several times a day, enjoying the fresh air on my own, or with our dog, or with my wife and the dog. I've been taking naps, sitting in the sun in our glorious, peaceful backyard.

I've started back to work, however I'm giving myself some slack...and stopping my nightly work shift well before midnight...

Of course, the real challenge will be how to prioritize health and relaxation while still getting the essential work done.

I've received so much support from family, friends, business associates, clients and "followers" (people who enjoy my free Archicad tutorials or other resources I share). Hundreds of messages of encouragement, and many stories of overcoming similar challenges. These boost my spirits.

I know I make a difference in this world, and that people care about me. I have much to live for, and am so very grateful to have some more time to enjoy and to share my gifts.

If you're reading this, please know that you are important to me. I wish you the best in your life, and that you may have abundant health and joy.

Don't be stupid like I was.

If you get medical advice, don't ignore it. None of us is a superman or superwoman. I have been healthy all my adult life, hardly ever getting sick. That didn't keep me from getting heart disease. "I shoulda known better..."

In humility, and with deep gratitude,
Eric

Share with your colleagues
Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 60 comments
Vaughan Maybury - May 29, 2021

Hi Eric, sad to learn that you’ve been unwell, but very happy that you’ve had excellent care and are well again. Looks like you could do with more Bob-time and less work.
Keep on getting well. Best Wishes, Vaughan

Reply
Michael Gortsilas - May 29, 2021

Hi Eric I came across this and of course shocked as you don’t expect to hear about things like this. I had a stroke not a heart attack late 2018 and it just came out of the blue and Dr’s found I had a hole in my heart that caused it through a clot dislodging itself from the hole (a birth defect) apparently 1 in 5 people have this but remain unaware. I have had it repaired through a procedure called a P.F.O. and required to take meds for the rest of my life. Its scary to think of what might have been, but we have to live our lives and be mindful of our lifestyle. I wish you a speedy recovery and longevity going forward….take care.

Regards
Michael (Gold Coast Australia)

Reply
Howei Chan - May 29, 2021

tipdrag@gmail.com
Hi Eric,
You have helped many people over the years and will continue to do so.
Best wishes for a speedy recovery.

Reply
Arielle Schechter - May 29, 2021

Eric, I’m so happy you are OK!!! You are a kind, wonderful person and excellent teacher. I, along with countless others, will be sending good thoughts for your continued recovery and good health!

Reply
Guy Cass - May 29, 2021

Hey Eric, wow, sounds like you were extremely fortunate be able to walk into a hospital with 95% blockage and get treatment with angioplasty stents.

It sounds like you have more appreciation for your life afterwards.

Thank you for sharing your experience so eloquently.

I’m glad to hear you are well into recovery.

Take good care,
Sincerely,
Guy

Reply
Kim Talbot - May 29, 2021

Eric- I’m also 67. 8 weeks ago also on a walk w/ my wife. Felt bad, chest hurting.Had to stop and rest to make it home. Wife was calm didn’t say too much. Soon as we got home she called our primary care doc. He told her to get me in immediately. Ran an EKG. Showed a heart attack. Sent us immediately to the ER. Was admitted. Ran an angiogram anticipating stents. Too much blockage. Plan b- open heart sugery. Ended up being a quadruple bypass. They started me walking that afternoon down the hall to my new room in ICU. Ea. day I got better and stronger, walking farther 3 times a day. I’m a single practitioner licensed architect ‘spinning too many plates’. I was back to work 5 days after surgery. tired in the afternoons but each day got better. Started rehab. Now I walk 2 miles a day, hike and rehab. Life is good. But, trying to complete projects and slow down. Very hard to do. Been working on deadlines for 43 years.

I hope you can recover as well as I have been able to. We are both fortunate.

Reply
Jason Fligger - May 29, 2021

Eric: Thank you for your help and encouragement. Time to take care of yourself now for a while. Thank you for sharing with us and I will heed your advice. You are a great teacher and I consider you a friend.

Reply
Coetzee Judy - May 29, 2021

Hi Eric …. what a shock to hear that you have been through such a traumatic experience. Good advice to all of us ‘oldies’ to take a step back and re-evaluate what is really important. Take it slowly and give your body time to heal well. Your family needs you … as do the rest of us. Go well and thank you for sharing your experience with us.

Reply
Jeri Spurling - May 29, 2021

I’m so glad you made it through. Thank you for sharing so much about ArchiCad and about your crisis. I too have elevated cholesterol, but healthy in every way even with low blood pressure. But I will take your experience to heart (pun). I have been trying to avoid stains by dieting. Looking forward to that next check-up. I wholeheartedly support your moving to a more relaxed lifestyle.

Reply
Diane Waingrow - May 29, 2021

Eric, I have known you for decades and I am so grateful for the positive experience you had during this ordeal. I did not realize, although it does not surprise me, that you were working such long hours behind the scenes of ArchiCAD support – you have a way of making each of your clients feel like we are your most important student. I know you will find the right pace of work from this point on and that you will rise to the occasion both professionally and spiritually.

Reply
Roy Renwick - May 29, 2021

Eric, You have given so much to the ArchiCAD and the wider community. Hope you now taking care of your self for once. Kind regards from New Zealand.

Reply
Buzz Bryan - May 29, 2021

Greetings Eric. Sorry for your misery + frightening experience.
It is survivable. My similar experience was 30 yrs ago. Angioplasty alone is worrisome. Everyday I start with lifegiving statin + half aspirin. Important to catnap on demand + keep positive outlook. You’ll do great. Slow down. Hurry, worry, and debt still barriers to health + happiness. Be well, we need you ! Cheers.

Reply
Kelvin Kiplimo - May 29, 2021

Glory to God! Happy to see you back, you are an inspiration to many and I wish you full recovery and I personally have learned a lot from your testimony. Thanks much

Reply
Tatjana Rakic - May 30, 2021

Hi Eric! Good grief! Please don’t shock us like that… I am very happy you made it through. You have been amazing for teaching the AC community & sharing your knowledge with us all for a long time. There are so many tips and tricks we want to learn from you. I wish you full recovery, take it easy, all in your own time! Cheers and thank you.

Reply
Peter Bennison - May 30, 2021

Sending best wishes from Dordogne, France. I very much appreciated your message, possible because I am 68 ! You’re a great teacher and communicator, keep on the good work and the good life.
Peter

Reply
alan fleming - May 30, 2021

Eric, So glad you are on the road to recovery. My hope is for your full health and a slower pace. As expected from you, this “class lesson” might be your most important and have the greatest impact on this archicad user and others! I always learn something from your classes and this ‘lesson’ tops them all. Full and speedy recovery to you. alan, 68

Reply
Stan Connick - May 30, 2021

Eric, Thanks for sharing your experience! I am very grateful for you and your support throughout the years.
Stan Connick in Arizona

Reply
David Fujiwara - May 30, 2021

Hi Eric, Good luck with your recovery and new routine. I would think that you as a former dancer would be able to re-connect with your body and appreciate working it out with daily long walking and other activity. Shed as much of your work as you can. I send you best wishes in re-discovering your new you.
David in Toronto

Reply
Essie Djafarian - May 30, 2021

Dear Eric,

I wish you the speediest recovery and a quick road to your normal routine. You have to be vigilant and take a lot more care of yourself. Loving your work is great but you have to look at it as a hobby now and get to it when you can and store your energy for your recovery.
We all wish seeing you back to the best of health and looking forward to seeing you in a relaxed and measured way in order not to impede your full recovery.

Essie

Reply
Geoffrey Meyer - May 30, 2021

Hi Eric,

There is nothing like a ‘little scare’ – to give us all a good wake up call….There is more to life than work…family , our health and friends….. Pleased that you’re back up and ‘running’ – enjoy the fresh air and clean start to your day…
You need more than a coffee to start the day…lol…fresh air, exercise and great food and good wine
Always look forward to the information that you send out.

Enjoy your quiet time and the smelling of the Rose’s…….when times are tough – take your soak off and walk bare foot in teh grass…very soothing and great for thinking..

Geoff

Reply
Maria Ward - May 30, 2021

Hi Eric,

Congratulations on your great recovery! May you remain healthy for the next 40 years at least!!

You are a super man who takes great time and care in listening and helping others. I do believe its time for you to listen to your body and take care of yourself. We are all grateful for the time and advice you give, but your health and wellbeing is more important. Keep taking the walks, turn off the computer at the end of a normal days work, eat healthily, spend time with your lovely family and enjoy the life you have worked so hard for, and deserve to enjoy with those that live with you and love you.

Stay well!

Maria

Reply
John Feldman - May 30, 2021

Eric – Heal fast and stay healthy my friend!!!

Reply
Mark Renz - May 30, 2021

Eric,
Glad to hear you are doing well. Please take care of yourself. There is nothing more important than your health!

Mark

Reply
Richard - May 30, 2021

great article, glad we still are able to continue our crusade for architects

Reply
Marcus A Marino - May 30, 2021

Thank you for sharing this with us Eric. I am glad to hear you are on the mend and are now following the advice of your doctors.

Reply
Tom Ackerman - May 30, 2021

So shocked to hear about your heart attack. But many thanks for sharing your experience and so glad to hear about your recovery and great team around you. Many thanks for sharing great Archicad tips. I hope you can find balance moving forward and opening up about this will help others consider their health as important as their career. All the best. Tom

Reply
Nick Cain - May 30, 2021

Sorry to hear you have been unwell Eric. Wishing you a speedy recovery from Australia. All the best Nick

Reply
THOMAS CURRO - May 30, 2021

Eric, so glad this was caught in time before things got worse. You’ve been given a wonderful second chance and an opportunity to reevaluate your life and make changes so that you have a heart healthy lifestyle. I recently made some major changes after my blood pressure was shooting up way too high. Many people don’t get that second chance so I hope you think of it as a gift. Thank God for your wonderful wife who was there at your side. I’m hoping you take time in recovering.

Good to have you back!

Reply
Richard Kennedy - May 30, 2021

Hi Eric,
Keep doing what you love doing, perhaps a little slower. Get well and stay in contact with the medical team from time to time. With regards. Richard Kennedy

Reply
Victoria Read - May 30, 2021

Kia Kaha Eric – Get well soon

Reply
Hope - May 30, 2021

What a scare! I’m so glad you survived and are doing better. Thank goodness you were in the incredibly competent hands of your various sheroes! I’m also glad that you’re taking this lesson to heart to create more balance in your life and prioritize health and rest.

Take care and be well.

Reply
Philip Impey - May 30, 2021

Had a similar experience- woke up, Saturday morning with what felt like the mother of all hangovers. Problem is, I hadn’t been drinking the day or night before- I’m only a light social drinker anyway. Temp 38.3, BP 180/112, pulse 100+.
I sent my vitals to my emergency nurse daughter who told me to get to hospital immediately. I did- where I was subjected to all manner of tests on the heart. While this was happening, my temp. and heart rate started to come down. Nothing obvious was found but wanted me admitted for “obs” At 66 I was ok with that.Being privately insured I was transferred to Mater Private nearby where they repeated all the tests again and kept me “under obs” for the next 4 days. Results were that I had some kind of viral infection BUT, all the heart tests revealed an atrial arythmia, some calcium deposits near a valve and mild hypertension. I think I dodged a bullet and nothing required any form of surgery, just some meds for hypertension and mild blood thinners ( aspirin). My doctor thinks I’m pretty good for my age, but I’ll shed some pounds and return to gym.( haven’t been since COVID shutdown) One thing I do do though and have done since I was 50 is a regular 6 mth checkup with full bloods to monitor organ function, blood sugar, cholesterol levels and PSA for prostrate cancer.

Reply
Norbert Sinon - May 30, 2021

Hi Eric, I Glad you are out of the hospital and feeling better. We are waiting for your Tutorials as we miss you. Lots of Prayers are being sent for You. Take Your Time and Take the Docter advice.

See you soon.

Norbert

Reply
Sybil Fickett-jones - May 30, 2021

Dear Eric,
Glad to hear you made it through this awful health event with such a great outlook.
Will follow your advice.
Looking forward to learning more for you in the future.
Sybil

Reply
Adam Hall - May 30, 2021

Best wishes for a swift and full recovery, Bob.
Your work is brilliant and helps so many people!
You owe it to yourself and your loved ones to take it easy, and allow yourself recover fully. Thank you for sharing your experience. You were very lucky!
Adam

Reply
Philip Howell - May 31, 2021

Hi Eric
Sorry to hear about your misfortune.
The same happened to me a while back
However it was the Stents that saved the day and allowed me to continue my Archicad aventures.

G.D.L is the magic and you are the magician.

Stay safe and get well soon

Cheers

Reply
Barbara Carr - May 31, 2021

Hi Eric,
Best wishes for a speedy recovery,

Reply
Chic Hanssen - May 31, 2021

Hey Eric,

Glad to hear you’re recovering, Definitely a wakeup call! Like someone earlier said “Time for more Eric time”. Always have appreciated all the work you put in to help us with Archicad, you make it easier for us to use it. Enjoy this upcoming summerI

Reply
GERALD O BRINLEE - May 31, 2021

Eric, Good to hear you are doing well, please take it slow for awhile. You are the best at teaching us all. God Bless to you and wife. Prayers for a speedy recovery

Reply
Haraldur Ingvarsson - May 31, 2021

Hi Eric, good to see you up and active, wish you a speedy recovery

Reply
Larry Schreiber, AIA - May 31, 2021

Wishing you a full recovery. As you said, it is important to take care of yourself,
because without your health, all the work is meaningless.
All the best,
Larry

Reply
Darlene Riemer - May 31, 2021

Glad you are home. Listen to your body. It is God’s gift. You are unique, one of a kind, you have helped so many people, and I look forward to learning ArchiCAD through one of the Tutorials–I will give it another try……you inspire me!

Reply
Amos Orie - May 31, 2021

Hi Eric, trust you’re feeling much better now. Your Archicad lessons are a special kind of gift from a special human being. Every champ needs to take a well deserved break and I dare say that was your body signalling that it’s now your turn to take it easy. Praying for your full recovery

Reply
Carl J Colson - May 31, 2021

Eric,
I was quite surprised to learn of your heart attack and am very pleased that your excellent medical team and “shero” did such an outstanding job in your recovery.
Please keep on the mend!!!
Carl Colson

Reply
Steve Melvin - June 1, 2021

Eric
That is a strong and very honest account of your brush with mortality. Full of hope, love and humour, quite frankly inspiration! You have a lot more to give.
Steve Melvin

Reply
Gary Lawes - June 1, 2021

Hi Eric,

So sorry to hear of your health issues, but delighted to hear that you are on the mend. As can be seen here, you are much loved in the ArchiCAD world. Getting the work/life/health/family balance right is so important, and oh so difficult, but I am sure you can do it.

Keep well

Gary

Reply
A.D. - June 1, 2021

I hope you’re back to 100% soon Eric, and am so happy that things worked out for the best. You absolutely make a difference in this world, and yet, what’s most important is your health, and your obligation to yourself and your family.

Take Good Care Of Yourself Eric…

Peace,
A.D.

Reply
Marcin Piotrowicz - June 1, 2021

Eric, my best wishes.

Getting essential work while prioritising health? Priority is a singular word, not plural. If health is priority, then not work, even if “essential”. It is body that allows you do other stuff, and without it you can’t do even ‘essential’ things.

I may sound disrespectful or overly simplistic, or non-realistic, but I thought to leave you this comment here.

Enjoy your life.

Reply
Bill Styczynski - June 1, 2021

Eric,

Wow, what an experience, I’m glad you told your story and that you are well on your way to recovery. It’s a wake-up call for all of us. You seemed so healthy and fit and yet there was this ticking time bomb inside of you. What a blessing you took action when you did.

Since I race cars, I am required to have an annual physical and my doctor had been on me to get my blood pressure and cholesterol down, which I have managed to do with more exercise, diet, and a low level of medication. It has helped immensely. I could also be a ticking time bomb as well.

Thanks for all that you do and for a healthy recovery. I’ll be in the gym in the morning thanks to you. We never seem to have enough time until it’s too late.

Reply
Ross Cann - June 1, 2021

I am glad you are on the road to recovery. It is so easy to put off life and exercise for work, but work is a marathon so we have to pace ourselves. That way we will last longer and get more important things done in the long run! –RSC

Reply
LESLIE - June 1, 2021

Eric,
I’m so happy to hear you are on the mend and taking time to reassess your health (physical & mental) and make sure you are getting the balance you need to enjoy a happy, healthy, and long life. I wish you a fast recovery.
All the best,
Leslie Pink_Morgan

Reply
Vicente - June 1, 2021

Eric,
I’m glad you are doing better and on your way to recovery. I remember when I was first introduced to Archicad 8.1 at your presentation in west L.A. Your teachings and guidance have been a staple in my career. It is interesting that you are once again being of service to me and many others by taking your knowledge of this experience and teaching us that balancing work and life for better health should be a priority. I’m sure many here can relate to late hours with coffee and minimal sleep as our fuel. I wish you nothing but the best and a speedy recovery.

Reply
Jessie - June 1, 2021

Thank you for all those who led a helping hand. You are valuable and we are all glad you are feeling better. Sending you good energy. To good health!

Reply
Bob - June 1, 2021

Eric… you have helped so many people. God bless you…
ʻo Iesū pū me ʻoe

Reply
Achilles Bafas - June 2, 2021

Dear Eric,
I am just a subscriber to your emails and not a real user of Archicad. Nonetheless, I enjoy feeling connected with you from here in Greece. It seems that we might be sharing that feeling of “butterflies” when it comes to getting anxious over being humble and useful. I sometimes wondered how you were handling your large audience and accomplished that myriad of click-clicks of the mouse. Please, get well soon and grace us with your presence and smiles….for as long as you can…
Your caring, somewhere out-there in the world friend!
Achilles

Reply
Brian Fireman - June 2, 2021

Wishing you a speedy recovery. Much love to you and your family! – Brian

Reply
Chris - June 3, 2021

Hello Eric,

I can only imagine how traumatic this must have been. Thank God you are out of the woods and into recovery.

Thank you for sharing your story to remind us about being health conscious. Wishing you all the best

Get well soon

Reply
Ron Skellenger - June 3, 2021

Hi Eric: Glad to hear you got successful treatment in time and are now able and willing to go out for walks. I trust you do stop to smell the roses! Best wishes to you and Le’ema. — Ron Skellenger

Reply
Blue Springs CBD - June 4, 2021

Great awareness post Eric, congrats hope you get fully well soon. This should be an awakening to people who dont tell their love ones about the health struggles

Reply
Emmanuel Odo - June 9, 2021

Hi Eric
I am most excited like a countless more who are glad to know that you are recovering well. Your words of advice are totally noted and I hope you will find a way to maintain the balance for your health sake.
Best regards.

Reply

Leave a Reply: